The second instalment of the Games of Thrones Telltale Games series is upon us, putting you back in control of the Forrester clan in the thick of the events of series 4 of the TV series. The family is scattered across the world, times are looking dire, and there have been some tragic losses – but this is par for the course in the books. So where does it go next?
I’ve developed a new found respect for Roger, our US writer, after starting The Lost Lords. He’s reviewed all The Walking Dead episodes, on multiple formats, and still manages to find interesting things to say about each episode without giving away plot points or decisions he’s made. I’m struggling. Not because there isn’t anything to talk about, but because I can’t just repeat what I said in the episode one review (it’s pretty, is well written, and has famous people in it – for those who can’t be bothered clicking the link); and because I don’t know what choices I’ve made that don’t impact the story that I can talk about. It’s a sign of clever structuring that leaves the player guessing constantly if they’ve made the right decision.
More so than before, I felt that I was being forced into taking particular stances that felt right for the characters involved, and uncomfortable for me. Certain situations bring strong memories of previous events to the fore, and you’re left (with the shortest time in the world) to make serious decisions that could get you, your family, or your entire House, killed. For a dialogue heavy game these are true hero or zero moments that you don’t come across often in other games, and with the way things are played out you’ve no idea whether it was the right thing to do. That mix of command and helplessness makes for a really compelling tale.
The story continues with the characters from the first episode, and with no surprise to anyone, brings in other family members that were talked about, though absent, from before. Starting in the hot and dusty city of Yunkai, you’ll find out what the black sheep of the family (Asher) is up to, and how he’s going to be brought into the fold. It seems like this is the way the game is going to tie in all the major plot points of the series, by having you located in the same regions as the actions of the main characters. Similarly, you’ll end up at Castle Black as part of the Night’s Watch, training to become part of the guard. There’s definitely a build here to the game play types we’re going to see later on, with these sections being more action focussed than the ones based at the Forrester home, or in the royal city of Kings Landing.
It isn’t to say that the exposition is something you won’t enjoy though. It’s tightly scripted, delivered convincingly and still full of British accents. More of the TV cast begin to show up, but that isn’t the selling point of The Lost Lords – the standalone story is what keeps you invested. It’s such a shame then that things get spoilt by the glitchy engine. Stuttering and poor framerates happen in early scenes, and audio repeats and glitches get in the way of engrossing dialogue. Maybe once every 10 minutes was hit with something that looked or sounded odd, which isn’t often, but very noticeable in a chapter that only last an hour and a half. Hopefully this will improve as we get to the next part.
Don’t let the dodgy engine put you off though, Game of Thrones: The Lost Lords is still a great piece of entertainment, and is filling the gap nicely whilst I wait for the new series to start. My only concern now is whether events in the game will look dated or out of place once the TV version gets up to speed again. Let’s hope Telltale get these out in quicker succession so that both are tying up at the same time.